Archive for June, 2010

The Perfect Fifth – Guitar Interval

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Welcome to the complex, confusing, and difficult world that most beginner guitarist affectionately refer to as guitar intervals.

It should be noted that learning the intervals alone can be quite difficult for guitar players, especially if you are just beginning to learn the various names such as major second and perfect fourth. Match this alongside the trouble many beginners have in remembering that guitar sounds one octave lower than written, and you have a subject that most desire to ignore or skip altogether.

According to Mike Hayes, a guitar coach, the numerous years of teaching experience has led him to one simple conclusion in regards to intervals – they’re easy to understand when presented in a particular sequence that the individuals can successfully recall the sound.

The first interval you need to learn is the major third followed by the minor third. Once, you are able to accomplish those feats, the “perfect fifth” is your next grand battle.

The perfect fifth interval is a very common interval and when the two notes of the perfect fifth interval are played simultaneously, they produce what is technically called the “harmonic fifth.” In rock terms, the harmonic fifth is more commonly known as the ”power chord.”

Interesting enough, most guitarists have been playing the harmonic fifth for quite some time, although they do not refer to it by it’s technical title. Similarly, they say most writers understand grammar, yet are unable to dissect the piece and individually label each word by it’s grammatical term.

The same is true of the guitar and it’s relationship to intervals.

Harmonic Fifth

If you would like to hear a phenomenal example of the harmonic fifth, listen to the opening chords of Dire Straits – “Money For Nothing”

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Now that you have an understanding of what the perfect fifth is suppose to sound like, do your best to attempt to hear the interval when played as single notes. Begin by playing the equivalent of middle “C” (piano) on the guitar fretboard. Middle ”C”s reference pitch is the third string; fifth fret.


Now play the note “G” (second string; fret eight).


Listen closely to the sound of the two notes. That, my friend, is the interval of a perfect fifth when its ascending.

Play the two notes again, this time listening carefully for the “space” between the first note (middle C) and the G. That’s the sound you need to be able to recall.

Now, play the two notes as a chord…

Harmonic Fifth


Note that this harmonic fifth is different from the one presented earlier in the song, “Money For Nothing.” While it may sound different, the Dire Straits song and the chord you just played are from the same interval only in a different key.

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In order to hear, recognize, and most importantly recall the sound of the perfect fifth interval, GLC further recommends these songs for the ascending perfect fifth:

1. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
2. One (Metallica)
3. Star Wars
4. Scarborough Fair
5. Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley)

The five songs listed above are just a few of the many that begin with this interval. 

In theory, a guitarist that constantly “looks” for the perfect fifth interval will eventually master the technique in his or her own work.

In other words, we just gave you an excuse to listen to music. Now go!

Essential Blues Scales

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Guitar scales in blues music are one of the most important factors to consider when playing blues guitar. If you fail to learn the fundamentals behind these vital gems, you will consequently fail to gain a real understanding of the notes you’re playing or how to eventually create your own sound.

Today’s lesson?

Discover the two essential blues scale patterns – pentatonic scale and blues scale:

Pentatonic Scale in E
E: Open & Three, A: Open & Two, D: Open & Two, G: Open & Two, B: Open & Three, E: Open & Three

Blues Scale in E
E: Open & Three, A: Open, One & Two, D: Open & Two, G: Open, Two & Three, B: Open & Three, E: Open & Three

(letters represent the strings and the numbers represent the frets)

If you studied the above diagram, you’ll easily note that the blues scale is more or less the same as the pentatonic. The only difference is the extra note, in this case, the Bb. This note plays an important function in blues guitar as it’s often referred to simply as “the blue note.”

The blue note is what gives the blues it’s unique style and sound. GLC could attempt to describe what this sound does to your music, but don’t you think it would be a lot more practical just to try it yourself? 

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The best way to play with the pentatonic and blues scales are with a backing track. It’s important to hear how the scales sound within the context of a song. See if you can locate something with a particular “blues feel” or merely build your own with such handy devices as the looper pedal.

Once you have the backing track, try to shred some licks. What exactly is a lick? Guitar licks are essentially phrases written using these scale shapes. Hence, they’re perfect for incorporating the scales interactively into the sound rather than just settling with a simple collection of notes.

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The world of improvisation (a trademark of the blues) is sure to open a broad understanding of the different blues scales and how they blend into the musical process. Thus, you must possess these basic skills in order to become a successful guitarist who can improvise and create brilliant riffs.

1. You should be able to visualize the scale on the fret board and play them instantly.
2. Your fingers should be able to instantly play each note of the scale on the entire fret board.
3. You must also know how many notes are there in the scale, what are their degrees and where you can exactly use a particular scale.
4. The last but not the least and the most important thing is to reproduce the scale in a musical way without the monotony of just playing the notes of the scales on the fret board.

If you fail to meet any of the four vitals above, than it’s a clear indication that your knowledge of guitar scales is less than 50 percent. Unfortunately, this will really affect your improvisation skills.

Fret not (no pun intended). The people who possess all of the above are in the minority and that is the minority group of “guitar masters.” It will take a lot of determination, hard work, and patience to become an expert.

Patience, it would seem, is the key to everything.

Guitar Basics and Theory

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Before you pick up the guitar for the first time you should know a few simple yet very important basics (or rules if you will) to the guitar. Like any new hobby, the individual improves over consistent and effective practice. If you pick up bad habits early on they’ll be very hard to break later.

Key point: Learn the right way from the beginning.

Aches and Pains

Your fingers will hurt for awhile. This is inevitable. One of the biggest complaints new guitarists gripe about is pain in the fingers. The truth of the matter is that you’re using new muscles in a different way and they’re going to get sore. Think about the first time you went snowboarding or ice skating. Were you really sore the next day? Same thing goes for learning the guitar. Thankfully it will not last after a good month of playing.

Accuracy is better than Speed

If you’re into the guitar because you want to learn it fast, than you are in it for all the wrongs reasons. Likewise, just because you play fast does not mean that you are in fact a good guitarist. Take time with each lesson (even the most mundane) and follow the instructions slowly in order to ensure that you do not pick up bad habits.

Technique is Important

At times you will come across a technique and might even feel that it’s easier to do this your own way. This is especially true with chords, as sometimes the fingers and positions listed do not appear to make a lot of sense….YET. Keep in mind that many techniques have you position your hands and fingers a certain way because later on this hand and finger is important for transitioning quickly to say, another chord.

Practice is NOT a Chore

The moment it becomes one, the second you should drop playing. Keep in mind that you got into the guitar because it looked like something entertaining to do. Push yourself in practice but always keep it lively.

You Can’t Do it Alone

There are several hobbies that you can learn on your own. The guitar, is not one of those. The cold hard truth is that you need help. Thankfully, the internet is very fertile when it comes to guitar lessons, instructional videos, and other material designed to improve your skills. Not only that, but they are more affordable than ever before.

Click Here! For our outstanding review of some of the greatest online guitar courses on the Web.

Now, to guitar music theory…

Guitar music theory is something you may have heard about before. It’s the idea of applying musical theory to the guitar in order to recognize patterns or styles of music. Understanding this theory will enable you to play any style of music because you will see that music can be broken down into parts. It’s the science of music.

Music theory applies to the guitar through scales, steps, chords, and chord progressions. Each of these aspects contribute to the overall song. If you learn these, than you will learn all of the components of the science of the song.

One online guitar expert likes to compare guitar music theory to a recipe. For example, if I was to say that I’m making supper and I needed the following: tortilla, rice, beans, chicken, salsa, and cheese - you would assume that I’m making a delicious burrito. Which is true.

Furthermore, the scales, steps, chords, and chord progressions are the key ingredients of a great song. The better each of these ingredients are, the more well defined and unique the taste.

To make a song you need to incorporate different terms like: a major scale, a chord progression, and rhythm. A scale is typically a major or minor scale. It represents the relationship that notes have to each other.

The C Major Scale, for example, is defined as: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.
A G Major Scale is defined as: G A B C D E F# G.

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Each of these feature what is known as a step sequence. The step sequence utilizes such terms as “whole” or “half steps”.

The C Major for example: C whole step, D whole step, E half step, F whole step, G whole step, A whole step, B half step C.

After you understand the scales and steps, you must progress to the chords. A chord is like a scale as you typically only hear two types - major and minor chords.

A C Major chords looks like this: (C E G), the intervals that define this are: C 2 steps E 1.5 steps G. A major chord is defined as: 2 steps – second note – 1.5 steps – third note and a minor chord is defined as: 1.5 steps – second note – 2 steps – third note.

Time to progress to the progressions – the chord progressions that is. If you can start to add these variations in to the progression: ACE, DFA, CEG, FAC, GBD, EGB, and BEG you will have ultimately achieved a song. You may of course alternate what chords you want to play. 

Learn these simple terms and you have in fact unlocked the foundation to the song. If you do the dirty work now, the basics, theory, and terminology of the guitar will ultimately improve your overall intelligence and appreciation for the guitar.

The Looper Pedal & The Guitar

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

One very versatile and effective music product that has been lost in the massive wave of modern technology is the looper pedal. What exactly is a looper pedal? A looper pedal is a special little toy that will enable any guitarist the ability to produce loops from scratch.

If you want to be an excellent guitarist, practicing with a looper pedal is essential. Why? Few pastimes are as enjoyable as creating an entire song by yours truly. Musical creativity is endless when you have the chance to layer the chord progressions, bass lines, rhythms, and drum beats with one individual and with a single instrument.

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Did you know? Loop-based music was initially made popular by Robert Fripp, the musician who benefited from a stream of experiments involving tape loops.

What is great about looper pedals is A) how easy they are to use and B) their afford-ability. Looper pedals range from $160-$600 depending on the number of tracks recordable and other features. As a guitarist, you may have different aspirations for the loop pedal than that of a singer. Think about what you want to get out of a looper pedal and research accordingly.

Too often it’s easy to get suckered into the most expensive product with a million different features (a quarter of which you’ll probably use regularly). For example, if you are just looking for a pedal that will allow you to layer three or four different guitar tracks, than a $200-$250 looper pedal should do just fine.

Most looper pedals have similar functionality. One pedal is commonly reserved for recording, playing, and overdubbing. On the first tap, it records you playing, the second tap stops the recording and starts the looping, and a third tap allows you to overdub.

Guitarists may then build up their backing track with whatever other instruments they seem fit. Most loopers will also allow you to undo your last recording and it’s highly recommended that you invest in a looper with this capability. Secondly, look into pedals that allow the user to switch between different loops, reverse loops, play along to a drum track, as well as change the tempo of the recordings on the spot.

Over time, guitarists can build up their own backing track by adding to the existing loop. In loop terminology, this is known as overdubbing. Looping is fantastic for practice and jamming out at home, however you can also gig alone with one if you desire.

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Did you know? Fripp’s experiment with loops was successful enough that the musician ended up on a tour appropriately titled the Frippertronics Tour? It was here where Fripp brought delay and looping effects a step further into the mainstream.

Looping is a very cheap, simple, and effective way to record music. If you really want to get serious about your music, you’ll one day need to invest in higher quality recording and engineering devices. In the meantime, however, you may surely learn a lot from a looper pedal.

Ask most guitarists and they will tell you that having a backing track or variety of backing tracks is a great way to practice once you have moved past the basic lessons. Not everyone has the ability to call up three or four friends and meet for a quick jam session. People are busy and always working. Thus, you will have a lot of time where you’re only able to practice alone. Enter the pedal.

Once you purchase a looper pedal, try to make four or five different backing tracks. They do not have to be complex, but rather something that you can vibe well with and is easy to strum along to. Try to record a few different styles or genres, and mix up the tempo for further skill.

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